Right Brain Brewery

Right Brain BreweryRight Brain Brewery

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

225 E Sixteenth St Ste E
Traverse City, Michigan, 49684-4181
United States

(231) 944-1239 | map

No notes at this time.

Added by Mitchster on 12-15-2007

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Reviews: 51 | Ratings: 137
Photo of littlehowtown
1.98/5  rDev -50.1%
vibe: 2 | quality: 1.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 2

I had a lot of hope for this place, as many I know have told me about it, and it's gotten some kind reviews on BA. I just didn't see what people enjoyed at this place.

Located in an alley, it was off the beaten track; but hey, I live in Three Floyds country, I know about obscure brewpub locations. The outside was a bit confusing, as the permanent sign, highest placed, was for a hair salon. And with the salon in the front window, we thought the whole place was closed at 9 on a Friday. A trip down a hall proved otherwise. There was the room we seeked.

I took a look around and had a seat at the bar. The place reminded me of a coffee shop, with linoleum floors, laminate here and there, country oak trim for the bar. No passive entertainment or games, save a collection of board games where we came in. The room was large, quite a few 20-somethings were sitting around in what looked to be clicks in a lunchroom. Come to think of it, the place could have been confused with a cafeteria. Not to be mean, but it felt a bit juvenile. And misleading, as there was nothing in the way of food beyond hummus, chocolate truffles, and some bags of popcorn.

We were greeted quickly by a guy playing with his iPhone behind the bar, which oddly enough was being used as the source for the bar music. He asked if we wanted to see menus. He handed us each a piece of white paper folded in half. Inside were the beers and some descriptions. 2 IPA's to lead off, and some other interesting ones. My wife took one IPA, and I took the other. Mine tasted eerily similar to a malt taste I had for my first ever homebrew attempt. That taste that comes from extracting the sugars at the wrong temperature, like it's too starchy. The hops really took a back seat to what the malt was doing. Aromas were weak, the apperance muddy, the flavors that were there were not interesting. We saw a sign of "beers in the pipeline" with 5 different IPAs listed, among other varieties. I wonder if they are searching for a recipe that comes out tasting like an IPA or if they think that their hoppy beers are good enough to be recognized for them. We noticed the cask ale was hanging out with a wrap on it under a counter, with a needlessly long, uncovered line running to the beer engine. I just couldn't bring myself to even ask for a taste to check it, especially with the $1/ounce charge on tastes.

As we looked back over the menus to see if we should venture on, we noticed that over half the beers used the term "malty" singularly to describe the profile, including the IPAs. Like whoever wrote it had no idea what to write about the beers. It made me wonder who was running the place. Then I saw a high school graduation photo of the owner over the other side of the bar, replete with flawless mullet and 'stache. Normally I'd find some humor in something that odd, but given all the other odd problems I saw, it just made sort of a sad amount of sense.

I asked a bartender what other beers they had available from guest breweries. Although they had probably 8 open draft lines, Right Brain didn't have anything else on. So pretty much nothing left for me to do but call in the tab. I guess I wouldn't want my beers placed next to anyone else's either.

Now, I understand the brewery is young, and that certain changes are made as a business grows and learns from experience, but to start of on such a missing foot makes me wonder if they can cut it. The beers will have to step it up a huge notch and receive cult-like status here on BA before I'd ever venture back. Again, it probably sounds mean, but I just don't understand how beers of this caliber become the backbone of a business.

Not recommended. Try North Peak just down the street. It's nicer to look at, has a less clicky crowd, the beers are acceptable or better, and have a cask ale I wasn't worried about (IPA when I was there, ironically). They also have food pretty late. The wood-fire baked cheese dip was a fantastic snack.

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Photo of augievikings
2.05/5  rDev -48.4%
vibe: 1.5 | quality: 1.5 | service: 2 | selection: 3

In a nutshell, this place is weird. Tucked back inside a strip mall, you feel like you're walking through a hair salon to get to the bar. After attempting to have a beer here, it became very obvious that I am not hip enough for this scene. I always try cask conditioned beers when I have an opportunity, and here they had a jalapeno stout concoction on cask. While others may like a spicy warm stout, I found it to be awful. The bartenders were pretentious and not particularly friendly. We didn't even finish our beers because we were just not enjoying the vibe the place was giving off. Perhaps if you are a regular you are used to the atmosphere, but I found it off-putting. I much preferred the North Peak brews I tried during my stay in Traverse City.

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Photo of zoso1967
2.36/5  rDev -40.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 1.5 | service: 3 | selection: 2

Oh Right Brain, I just don't understand why so many people like you.

Since moving back to TC I have been coming by RB frequently enough to allow me to review this place. We most often come on Tuesday nights when they have their very enjoyable trivia night. Unfortunately, trivia is the only reason I ever want to come here.

The decor and vibe of the place are both fine. It's modern, eclectic and chill with a nice Midwest laid back sort of feel. I find that the place tries a bit too hard to be different, but I really can't complain much about the atmosphere when compared to many other local places.

I have never been overly impressed with the service here. Some of the people don't know much about the beers and they often get a little snotty with me when I ask too many questions.

The beer is the real downfall though. I have had many different brews of varying styles during different times of the year and I have even had brews from both brewers. Unfortunately the very best of what they have to offer is just mediocre and when it's bad, it's pretty ugly

I went just last night and out of the 5 different beers I tasted only one was decent enough that I might order it again. The other four were terrible and we were using words to describe them like: plastic, rotting vegetation, moldy doughnuts, rubber, ash and marinade. If my homebrew ever comes out tasting like some of what they have on tap, I would pour it down the drain and try to do better next time. Once the bartender actually apologized to me in advance when she handed me a beer. She should not have to do that!

Selection is also not their strongest point as often they are loaded up on one particular style, or they have almost nothing on. You can rest assured that they will have something "Right brained" on tap though, which has an equal chance of being interesting or a complete disaster. They make a lot of one-off beers which is nice, but this adds to the roulette type scenario of betting on how many of the beers I try will actually be palatable. Sometimes I win big and feel like I did not waste my money, but just like in Vegas the house usually wins.

To add insult to injury the beers are all around $5 and many are premium (chuckle) pours so you only get 12 oz. I could go to U & I and get a Huma for less, and U & I also has delicious food. Even Bubba's is comparable in beer prices.

I am sure this will not change the mind of the Right Brainwashed regulars, but I would highly recommend that if you are visiting the TC area that you take the money you may have spent here and use it on good beer at Short's.

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Photo of goast8127
2.63/5  rDev -33.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2 | selection: 3

Reviewed on 10/22

We had a little bit of difficulty finding this place. I mostly blame the GPS. The bar seemed a little oddly placed in it's office complex. Inside was eccentric and unique. There was some woodwork, exposed ducts, and many different games. Sly and the Family Stone was featured quite heavily on the sound system. Felt very much like a bar in someone's basement. Being it was Friday, the place was quite busy. We sat at a table and had to order and retrieve our drinks from the bar, as everyone did. Was disappointed that the white boards were not correctly up-to-date with what was available, and was not impressed with the beers I selected. I know enough about the place to give it another chance.

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Photo of JimT
2.66/5  rDev -33%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 1 | selection: 3.75

Don't know could not get a server to wait on me. Three people behind bar, one other table, no service. Left thirsty and disappointed. I hear it is fantastic Beer, if you have plenty of time, and patience, give it a try. But there are plenty of other excellent microbreweries in TC with better service..

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Photo of Hrodebert
2.85/5  rDev -28.2%
vibe: 2.75 | quality: 2.75 | service: 3.25 | selection: 2.75 | food: 2.5

Pretty disappointing visit. The selection of beer on tap was very mediocre, nothing terrible, but nothing great either. Mostly just flavorless.
The food is below average in quality with portions being very small, and the waffle used for a bun on every sandwich was not a very good substitute, being flavorless and almost mushy.
The locals do seem to like the beer, as I saw quite a few bring in the clear growlers used by Right Brain.
One thing for sure with this place is the employees have the neck-beards down pat.

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Photo of claminat420
3.1/5  rDev -21.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

well it's very clear that the brewery shares a building with other businesses. very cool establishment i.m.o. they have a chalkboard with the brews on hand and giving info on each one. they have a wall for their mug club and it's a site to see. it's a very laid back enviroment. when i went there were kids running around playing with their toys and no one cared. the place is very i don't know.. free spirited. they have alot of personal art and what-not hanging on the ceiling. the service is really good and the staff are cool. i got a growler to take home and i wanted the simcoe dream which is cask conditioned (cuz i thought their other ipa that wasn't casked sucked). well one of the employee's told me they don't really do that cuz of the cask getting flat but i offered to pay more and he said he would. he ended up giving me the growler for no extra money and i also got 2 pint glasses and a set of coasters for all 25 bucks out the door. which totally beats great lakes brewing which not even a month ago wanted to charge me 33 bucks just for a growler of blackout stout (RIP OFF!!)
the only thing i can say that is negative about the place is how they try to have 12+ beers on tap and when i went there 8/23/10 there were only i think 8. now the only thing i can say negative about the brewery is i would like to see more higher alcohol beers. they had nothing over 6.3abv which was an amber. like make an ipa that or 7abv.
i didn't get any food but all they have anyway are just some munchies like pretzels, popcorn, etc. overall this place is great. seems like the majority of the people who go there are down to earth but there are #ssholes everywhere. for $3 pints during happy hour 3-6 you can't beat it.

UPDATED!!!!went back on aug 17th 2011 and was pretty disappointed. their prices seem like they could be lowered and the quality of beer seemed to have dropped. 5.35 a pint of your own homemade beer at the same establshment seems kinda dickish to me. when shorts and other companies sell their beer cheaper and make way much more better stuff too.

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Photo of AylwinForbes
3.13/5  rDev -21.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3

Traverse City was a pitstop on our way to Shorts a few miles north. Thank God we didn't stay in Traverse since it was awash in vacationers. We had received several endorsements of the Brain and so made our approach with optimism and enthusiasm. That a bit dented by its slightly hidden quality and trying to find a parking spot. Also a little taken aback by the first impression being that of a hair-dresser. Fortunately we managed to discern that the bar was behind. I guess it is a unique claim to be made to be the only bar where one can gaze out onto people having their hair dyed.

First impression was favourable: liked the slightly hip, west-coast casual ambiance. Encouraged by sign saying no one under 21 (except that's only true after 9, so yes there were babies in there). Bar staff pretty friendly. Happy hour prices really reasonable. Here's the thing though: beer just not that good. My own brewery is better. Spiny Norman not so bad. Will Power not so good. Something on the cask, a stout with cinnamon, truly awful; it would take a lot of ice cream to banish the taste of that one.

Another disappointment was the complete absence of real food. Chips and hummus that are delivered in the packages that came from the store...

A lot of marketing goes into this operation with its funky shirts and stuff. Also it tries to create a reputation of edgy and off-the-wall creations - like beer made with asparagus. Take a tip from Barry at Saugatuck: do the simple things well.

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Photo of Mitchster
3.45/5  rDev -13.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4

These guys have been open for about 2 weeks now. I don't know where the parking is, so I just parked out front. It's a typical open industrial look, with unfinished ceilings, exposed air ducts, etc. No food for right now, unless a bag of premade popcorn counts. They had about 12 beers on tap or so, with room for about 5 more. I tried the ESB, Raspberry pale, Hefe Weizen, IPA, Porter (on nitro), and Stout. They were all good, but none stood out as really, really good. The Hefe weizen and IPA were probably my favorites. I spoke with John, the brewer, for a while. He used to brew for Traverse Brewing Company in Elk Rapids. Very nice and knowledgable guy who seemed to enjoy talking shop. Plenty of seating (the license says 81) with local art on the walls. Big see through window to the beauty shop next door. Bathrooms out in the hall are shared with the other businesses in the building. They don't currently have a sampler tray, and it seemed the bartender was irritated by my requests to try the beers, despite the fact I was paying for them. When I was there, they had happy hour from 3-6p with $2 pints.

These guys have promise. The beers are decent for an early start, and I hope to see them grow.

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Photo of MarcatGSB
3.59/5  rDev -9.6%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Now I've visited Right Brain about a half dozen times over the past three years, and have varying experiences. The first time I went about three years ago, I really fell in love with the place. It was a great addition to the Traverse City area. The local artwork is a great feature, the beers were tasty, using alot of local, eclectic ingredients, and the vibe was fun and relaxed. I've read some things recently that say the beers have gone down hill, but in my limited experiences, they have been alright. They aren't the best beers, no Shorts, or JP, but they are better than average beers. I've had some really nice beers on cask there, which is hard to get around the way. Give it a try, there aren't an overwhelming amount of choices in the area, so you should have time to decide for yourself.
NOTE: EDIT 12-27-2012 Original score as 3.91.
I have since visited Right Brain in their new location and wanted to note some things. The original brewer is back from his stint at JP, and the quality of the breweries as definitely been re-elevated.
The new tap room is pretty impressive. It's a really cool space, spread out, with plenty of wall space for art work, kind of continuing the theme from the Warehouse District. The brewing area itself is massively larger than previous, so this should give them the room they need to grow and distribute soon. Good looking out Right Brain.

RE-EDIT: 12-17-2013 After visiting Right Brain a few more times in their new location, and tasting some of the new brews from the new brew system, my opinion has changed quite a bit. The new location is so far out of the way. We stopped by on a Saturday night around 7 o clock, and it was more or less empty feeling, and was not inviting. If the space was smaller, or could be broken up a bit, the vibe may change, but with it being so big and everyone so spread out, it really wasn't that welcoming and warm. The Anniversary brew was pretty good, and everything else we had was ok, but two visits ago, both the beers we had were butter bombs. And these werent't the first beers we've had that had that problem.
With other options popping up in Traverse City, Right Brain needs to step it up or they will find themselves on the outside looking in.

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Photo of jimbofish
3.6/5  rDev -9.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 5

We've visited RBB since it first opened last fall. In fact we checked almost weekly all last summer, waiting for them to open, due to long delays in construction. Overall, it was worth the wait.

The selection of beers on tap is impressive, usually at least 12, with a half-dozen more taps unused as of yet. And those aren't your usual generic styles, oh no! They're all a 'kicked up a notch' with extra ingredients that you aren't expecting to find in beer. The CEO Stout (chocolate, espresso, oatmeal) is one of the beers that has been on the menu since the start, and for good reason... rich, smooth, satisfying. Otherwise, there seems to be an ever changing parade of beers... basically following common styles, but each version with a new twist. So far we haven't found a bad one, but we haven't tried them all. The beers are definitely RBB's strong suit.

Much ado has been made concerning the atmosphere... TV- live music-smoke free, to promote good conversation and atmosphere. A noble effort and, judging from the crowds, quite popular with 20 to 30 somethings. If you're a baby-boomer like we are, you may find yourself counting tiles on the wall, as the younger crowd tends to be a bit clique-ish (not the bar's fault).

Considering that virtually every surface in the room is hard, and the music a bit loud , especially if you're sitting in front of a speaker, the ambient noise level tends to make normal conversation a bit difficult, IMO. Some sound absorbing measures could help a lot.
Most of the lighting seems to be around the perimeter of the room with a few scattered down lights toward the middle. This gives the room a dark center, fine maybe for romantic efforts, but not so good for general vision. A bit of ambient lighting, please?

On our most recent visit last week, there were no $2 specials like there have been since the opening. Maybe this will return when the summer tourists are gone. We did not see any mention of the previous 3-6pm happy hour either. Maybe we just missed it, or it's on summer hiatus also.

The $100/yr membership seems a bit steep for what you get, especially with the $20 customized mug fee at the art center next door, a hat or shirt, $6 growlers, and $4 mug refills, and a 25% discount on kegs.

Service is only available at the bar and the ever-changing bartenders didn't seem particularly knowledgeable or anxious to help on any of our visits. Samples cost $.25 apiece, and drinks must be paid for when served... no tabs? Outside food is allowed, and there is a nice organic food place with carry-outs just across the street.

Parking in front is limited to only a couple of spaces, but there is a larger city-owned lot in back. It's not easy to find if you're not familiar with the area, since the entrance is off Hall St. Garland St was mostly deserted warehouses a year or two ago. It's now become sort of an art and music center. The transformation is amazing.

I hope RBB continues to succeed as it's nice to have some variety in town. I highly recommend it if you're in town. You may find it completely to your liking.

Update: Sept 2011 There is now a patio in front, obviously only open during the summer, although not connected directly to the pub (the hair salon is in between).

The organic restaurant across the street is now gone, as well as the eatery that opened at the other end of the building. A new restaurant is supposed to be opening though.

Prices have increased recently, as they have at all 3 TC breweries. It's hard to find any craft beer for less than $4.50/pint now unless it's happy hour or you're a club member. The $2 specials are long gone, but $3 pints are available from 3-6 on weekdays and some occasional 'special' days.

The service is still a weak point though, even after 3 years. We usually sit at the bar and there have been times when our glasses sat empty in front of us for 10 minutes. We end up having to get up and stand at the order station to get a second beer, even though there is no line and multiple bartenders. Considering that they can see the entire bar from the taps and there is no table service it's annoying, if not rude. I've heard similar comments from other beer geeks. It seems that the service is best when Russ is in the building, but slacks off at times when he's not around.

That said, I feel lucky to live so close to RBB and taste their beers on a regular basis. That the lines are always longest at the RBB booth at any of the MBG Beerfests is proof of their popularity.

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Photo of Stigs
3.73/5  rDev -6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

final stop on day #1 of our Michigan trip

It was pretty busy though we were able to snag two seats at the bar. Pretty cool looking place, playing off the "right brain" thing with some quirky decorations and layout.

Unfortunately, they were down to 5 (maybe 6) beers to choose from while we were there. One I was really looking forward to was the RAD (Random Alpha Docious) collaboration with Dark Horse. It was decent at best. The most intriguing selection was the Pomona Pumpkin "sour" (more tart) that was good, though didnt interest me enough to get a growler to go. Everything else was forgettable.

Service, well we were waited on and carded when we sat down and ordered a flight. To which we had to fill out which six beers we wanted - when they only had six to choose from. After that, we were pretty much left alone, and not even asked if we wanted anything else once the flight was gone.

Overall, a little bit of a letdown from what I was expecting to be a hidden gem of the trip. Not bad enough to the point where I would give it another shot if in the area though.

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Photo of kovolev
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I made a special trip to Traverse City in late December to visit the newly opened Right Brain Brewery. It is located about ¼ of a mile north of North Peak Brewing Co. in the burgeoning “Warehouse District” of town. The Brewery is in an old warehouse which also houses the Salon Saloon, where you can order a beer from the Brewery while getting your hair done. The vibe of Right Brain Brewery is simple, yet stylish and unpretentious. It has kind of a basement feel to it because it is darkly lit and there are few windows. Piping is exposed, and the walls are adorned with paintings, many of them for sale (at exorbitant prices). There are no TV’s, which I found incredibly refreshing. The music wasn’t too loud but was loud enough, and played an eclectic mix of Bob Marley, Oasis, Ben Harper, ect.
As for the Beer, the selection was good, around 10 to 12 on tap. Pints are $4.50 unless priced otherwise (when I was there several were $2.00). My drinking buddy and I had 5 pints, which ranged from below average to slightly above average. The Chocolate Mint Stout was okay but the mint was a bit strong. The Organic Pale Ale was okay but could have benefited from more hops. The Brown Ale had a bad aftertaste. The Nitro-infused Porter was a little weak, a bit too watery. The Honey Gingered IPA had good flavor but also needed more hops, it being an IPA and all.
Although I found their beers somewhat lacking (though decent for sure), I liked and respected the ambitious, experimental quality of their beer. I think that with time the brews at Right Brain will improve. Keep in mind they JUST opened. The pub and their beer remind me of a new band that has a lot of potential but hasn’t quite found their sound yet. I found the atmosphere far superior to most breweries I have been to, a real smart, intellectual place for the beer enthusiast. When their beers improve (and I believe they will), this will be one of the best Breweries in Michigan.

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Photo of jt31914
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Visited Right Brain as my last brewery trip of a beer filled weekend in T.C. I think that beer at Right Brain is very good; however, the brewery itself has an identity crisis. It has a hodgepodge of tables, decor, and games (there are creepy mannequin's lining the walls, as well as an elephant with wings hanging from the ceiling and a starship battle cruiser model). It was very weird and slightly uncomfortable.

The beer was fantastic, albeit a little overpriced. We had the Strawberry Fields and Spiny Norman (a Strawberry Blonde and a Simcoe IPA). I thought the Strawberry Fields was a slightly better version of Short's Strawberry Short's Cake (less sweet due to the lack of milk sugar, still full of strawberry flavor) and the Norman was just a solid drinkable IPA. The prices were a bit high for my taste ($5.25 for a standard pint and an outrageous $15 for 6 samples), but if you go there during happy hour it is much more reasonable ($3.50 per pint).

We didn't have food, and the service was fine. I would recommend Right Brain's beer, but the atmosphere left something to be desired.

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Photo of Mothergoose03
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

My wife and I stopped here as part of a pub crawl in northern Michigan and the UP to visit the newer brewpubs (plus several others) that have opened since our last trip ‘up north’. This place happens to be one of the ‘several others’. Although this is the first time I’ve reviewed this brewery, we’ve been here one other time after the move from their downtown location (we’ve been there a couple times too), and the only things that have changed since our last visit a year or so ago are that they now bottle/can some of their beers, plus they have a small selection of deli sandwiches that use small fresh-made waffles instead of bread.

This brewpub does not seem to get as much hype for their beers as they did at their former location, and there seems to be some lessening of the quality and selection from before that justifies that lack of hype. The brewery was not busy on a weekday evening so we were able to sit at the bar. We chose 4 different 6 oz. pours (21 beers were available) to drink while we ate our sandwiches. The beers were all good, however, none were very exciting, so we graded them in a range of B- to a C.

The waffle sandwiches were very original and very good. They are small, but that was okay because we already had a small meal at the last place we visited.

All in all, this place is still very worthy of a visit. Perhaps we chose the wrong 4 beers with which to evaluate the brews here, but this pub is worthy of a visit by anyone who likes craft beer, and we’ll go back again someday.

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Photo of jale
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Stopped here after spending the day at Short's eating and drinking. I did'nt have anything to eat here but did try about 10 beers. Very bright and colorful inside, makes me feel like I'm in an ice cream store. The pub also connects to a salon where you can have your hair styled or cut while enjoying a beer. If you know me you understand I have no need to have my hair styled. This is a kid friendly brew pub so no need to leave them at home. The beers I tried were very solid beers and the had a sour which was very good. They always seem to have a highly eclectic variety of beers and is a place I will stop at every time I'm in Traverse City.

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Photo of arizcards
3.91/5  rDev -1.5%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Visited here today with Da Boss while touring Northern Lake Michigan.

Vibe was interesting, definitely eclectic with mannequin heads on stereo speakers, Homer Simpson suspended from the ceiling...you get the picture.

Quality of the beer was good. The two brews i had were pretty solid and Da Boss enjoyed her Irish ale.

Service was mostly self serve but will give credit for the friendliness of the gentleman that prepared our burgers and drew our brews.

Selection was solid as i believe there was 20 taps.

Food was good. Da Boss and i actually enjoyed our waffle bun burgers. Portions were smaller but that is OK as bigger is not always better.

Overall this was a nice place to visit and if i lived in MI i would definitely visit again.

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Photo of yock
3.91/5  rDev -1.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Boy this place was hard to find, but I'm glad we did. It's down a street that is almost like an alley, and then the sign is so small we had to ask some people where it was. But I'm glad we did. The bartender knew his beers and was quick to offer samples. And the selection was plentiful. We were there in the middle of a weekday afternoon so it was very mellow in there. I think the variety is very, very good, but most of the beers tasted a little weak to me. But I'm used to drinking 3floyds, so maybe it's me, and it's a personal issue, not their fault. Take the time to stop at this place. It's worth it. Make sure you can go when it's not crowded, the experience will be more enjoyable.

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Photo of stewart124
3.94/5  rDev -0.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Plenty of beers on tap and from the looks of the site it's always changing. My wife and I went for happy hour during the week and it was very laid back. The bar was more like a coffee shop that served beer. The one bartender was very friendly and quick while taking the time to talk to each costumer.

We sat in old hospital chairs and there was a beer advocate mag for me to browse through while I sipped on a delicious IPA. I really wanted to try all there beers because they had somethings as wild as a cherry pie beer. Actual cherry pies were through into the fermentation! There are "premium pours" and regular pours while they will also let you take a growler to go.

Right brain is cool with people bringing in their own food and even mentions this on their cards. The only downside we both agreed on was that there was no outdoor patio. Traverse City has such great weather and Righ brain should take advantage of this. Solid overall.

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Photo of HarmonMW
3.96/5  rDev -0.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75

Right Brain is a bit off the wall, but that's part of what makes them unique. Visited the new brewpub recently. There are several bench-style and bar-style table tops, with surrounding chairs that are a hodge-podge of anything they find - old dentist chair (check), hospital chair (check), ugly chair probably found on the side of the road (check). There is a TIE fighter hanging from the ceiling, and some of the tables are game tables where you can play Donkey Kong while enjoying your beer. Lots of games on the walls to play. And if you're feeling like a voyeur, you can watch some people getting their hair done at the neighboring salon. Unique for sure, and I really liked it.

Beers were very good. They even had a beer made with asparagus that I got just for the novelty of trying it. My fiancee groaned when I ordered it. We both like asparagus and both of us found this to be surprisingly delicious.

If you're in TC and a fan of unique beers, I'd definitely recommend stopping by.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.99/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Reviewed on 6/27/2010.

This is a cool brewpub that is putting out a lot of interesting beers (there were 3 IPAs on tap plus the Ancho Chili Chocolate Porter and a beer made with asparagus and lemony spices). This place is all about the beer as there is no food served here. Just people chilling, talking, and drinking beer. They have a bunch of board games, a mini-shuffleboard, and darts. Since you just place your order at the bar there is not the traditional "service" per se. Somewhat hard to find, as it is located in the same building right behind a hair salon (the sign is somewhat small so just look for the right street address). This place is really geared towards beer geeks and you are sure to find something that piques your interest. Also the mugs are really cool. A must stop!

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Photo of SpdKilz
4/5  rDev +0.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I have been here three times in the past three days.

Walking in was a hint confusing seeing as there is a salon out front. For those who are not locals or familiar with this location it might be a bit odd. But after the first time you know exactly where to go.
One is welcomed by a very nice and modern décor brew pub. Lots of open seating, a long L shaped bar, and a wonderfully transcribed board telling what is on tap. The three times my brother-in-law and I cam here it was a bit of off hours but the atmosphere was still great and the employees were eager to banter and BS with us about the beers. My brother-in-law and I both had a flight and then a couple other beers (at the other various times) that we enjoyed. They had some interesting beers (some I wouldn’t get again but was glad to try) but others that were solid for sure that I have enjoyed a few times.

The prices were overall good, and service great (sorry for the old fogies that feel they were not served well or are “out of the loop”…maybe they are). The selection was great, as in they had tons of RB’s own beers (no guest taps which would have been nice I will admit). We had plenty to choose from.

All in all, I have had an enjoyable experience and would recommend people to come here. The only downside was there was no real food avaliable.

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Photo of SaucyA
4/5  rDev +0.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

My girlfriend and I spent a long weekend in Traverse City recently, and had the chance to drop into Right Brain for a beer. It's a little tough to find initially, but definitely not hard to get to.

We went in on a Friday afternoon/early evening and the place was PACKED. I'm telling you, wall to wall with people. It wasn't even tourist season, and everyone we ran into were locals. It's definitely a neighborhood hangout. We squeezed in at the end of the bar and chatted it up with some very nice ladies. Sampled a couple brews and stuck with a nice winter warmer. Everything I tried was better than average, with some being great. My girlfriend, who isn't necessarily a ba, is a good sport about visiting breweries and genuinely enjoyed her time here as well.

Service at the bar was great, the bartenders were very nice and on the ball.

Beer selection was good, with pretty much every base covered, including a couple IPA's and a barrel-aged offering. They were grilling asparagus out front for an asparagus brew. Quite ballsy if ya ask me.

Didn't try the food, but apparently it's not their strong suit. Plenty of good spots around the area to get some great eats tho.

All in all a worthy beer destination, especially when coupled with the other beer-centric establishments in and around the city.

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Photo of jeepboy76
4/5  rDev +0.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Traveled three weeks to Traverse City with friends. I had heard about Right Brain from a few people, with mixed results. I just had to give it a try (especially after a friend gave me his growler to be filled at a reduced cost!).

The location was kind of a pain. We didn't realize that it was behind a hair salon (I'm sure townies love it). Once inside though, it had a terrific vibe. Along with a good selection of beer (try the Big Boned Belgian, you won't be disappointed), it also had a great 'personal' feel to it. Very much like a coffee shop. If you being able to hear your friends, this is a great place. I hope to go back someday soon!

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Photo of morimech
4.01/5  rDev +1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I heard that people that have TomTom or some other navigation devices have a hard time finding this place. Using Google maps on my smart phone brought me right to the front door. The location and building is nowhere near what you expect for a brewpub. In a commercial area in pretty much an alley. Right Brain shares a building with several tennants, one being a hair dresser that you can look upon via the windows. So if your wife wants to get her hair done, go with her, you are all set to drink some beer. All orders are done at the bar. I ordered a sampler with 6(?) choices. All the beer was good but nothing really grabbed me. My favorite was Dead Kettle while Bone Crusher was my least favorite. Beer from straight forward to out in left field. They had a smoked porter made with smoked pig bones but I did not try it. Sounds interesting though. The bartender was sure to tell me it recently won a reward. They do not do food besides bar snacks. I thought it was a bit expensive. If I remember correctly, it was $15 for the sampler.

2015 Update: Since my last visit, they have moved to a new location. Strangely the beauty saloon accompanied them so it must be a SO's business. Much larger and open space. They could fit a lot of people into this space. I heard that the beer quality has dropped off in recent years, but I did not notice any poor quality beers. And in fact, had the best beer during my recent visit to TC.

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Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City, MI
3.76 out of 5 based on 1,992 ratings.
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